In Ephesians 3-5 Paul speaks of the church as a “mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
In verse 9 he states that the church is a mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.
The church was a secret kept by God throughout the Old Testament times, and was never revealed until the NT apostles and prophets appeared. Paul was the one God used to reveal this.
Matthew 16:18—“The Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church.’” It was still future. The church was brought into being at Pentecost. Proof: The body of Christ or the Church was formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13—“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink of one Spirit.”
Can we determine when the baptism of the Spirit took place?
Acts 1:5—Before our Lord ascended He promised His disciples, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.”
Acts 2:4—On the day of Pentecost “they were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:47—“The Lord added to the Church,” etc.
By the time we come to 5:11 we read “that great fear came upon all the church.”
These scriptures pinpoint the birthday of the church as occurring at Pentecost.
Let us now consider briefly “Ten Great Truths Concerning the Church”:
1. There is one body; Ephesians 4:4.
The scriptures teach that there is only one church. There is only one body of believers on the earth today. The church in its entirety is never visible to man, it is formed into a common body by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13.
2. All believers are members of the Body; Acts 2:47.
The moment a person is saved, God adds him or her to the church as a member of the body. We become a living stone. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:12-26:
a. There are many members in the body, v. 12-14.
b. Every member has a function to perform, v. 15-17.
c. All members do not have the same function, v. 18-19.
d. The welfare of the body depends on all members working together, v. 21-26.
3. Christ is the Head of the body; Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18.
Christ as Head in Heaven controls the body on earth. The Head speaks of authority, leadership and the seat of intellect. Christ is not complete without His body, i.e. the church. That is why we read in Ephesians 1:23 that the church, as His body, “is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” This fact should draw from our hearts worship and praise.
4. The Holy Spirit is the Representative of Christ in the church; John 14:16, 26.
Some of the Spirit’s activities in the church may be seen in the following observations:
a. He leads Christians in their worship; Ephesians 2:18.
b. He inspires their prayers; Romans 8:26-27.
c. He empowers their preaching; 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
d. He guides them in their activities; Acts 13:2.
e. He raises up overseers in the church; Acts 20:28.
f. He bestows gifts for its growth and effectiveness; 1 Corinthians 12.
g. He guides believers into all truth; John 16:13.
5. The church of God is holy; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
God is calling out of the nations a people for His name. He sets them apart from all that is sinful to live lives of purity and holiness. “Be ye holy, for I am holy”—1 Peter 1:15-16. A holy God must be represented by a holy people.
6. Gifts are given for the edification of the church; Ephesians 4:11-12.
It is the Lord’s will that the church should grow spiritually and numerically. To this end the risen Lord gave gifts to the church. These gifts are obviously men: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The first two mentioned have passed away in the primary sense. The latter three remain with us today. The evangelist brings lost sinners to Christ. The pastors take care of the flock. The teacher unfolds the Word of God.
7. All believers are priests of God; 1 Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6.
May we ever cherish the truth of the priesthood of all believers. In the OT only a certain group of men were eligible for the priesthood—the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron. Exodus 28:1. Today, there is no special caste of men to approach God on behalf of others. All children of God are priests of God with all the privileges and responsibilities that go with such a name.
8. The completion and destiny of the church.
Every time a soul is saved, a living stone is added to the building, and it rises slowly to completion. One day soon the wok will be completed, the last stone will be added, then the Lord Jesus will return to the air. As if drawn by a divine magnet, the church will rise to meet Him and dwell forever with Him in the mansions of glory. We will share his glory throughout eternity. In the meantime we are His workmanship, his masterpiece on earth, showing the principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God.
9. The house of God; 1 Timothy 3:15.
A house or household speaks of order or discipline. “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” Dress; head covering; no personal prayers at prayer meetings; we represent the company when we pray; personal experiences at worship service; children partaking of emblems; noise at morning meeting.
10. The pillar and ground of truth; 1 Timothy 3:15.
In addition to being a support for a building a pillar was often used for posting public notices. It was a means of publication. The word “ground” means a bulwark or support. This being so we conclude that the church of God is the unit or means which He has ordained for proclaiming, supporting and defending His truth.
Believers engaged in this expansion and in the spiritual welfare of the church can safely say that they are in the current line of God’s will and purposes.